By Tony Jimenez
LONDON (Reuters) - Swashbuckling young French musketeer Victor Dubuisson has the weapons to win majors and become the world's number one golfer, according to fellow countryman and former Ryder Cup player Thomas Levet.
The 23-year-old Dubuisson lost to Australian Jason Day at the 23rd hole in Sunday's WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship final in Arizona but not before conjuring some Houdini-like escapes from the desert scrub.
The Frenchman's ball was twice buried deep in cactus bushes during the extra holes and each time he chipped and putted to keep the match alive, prompting eight-times major winner Tom Watson to describe them as "two of the greatest up and downs I have ever seen".
"Victor lost in the final but the first thing he said after was that it was a step forward for him," his friend Levet told Reuters in a telephone interview while practicing in Florida.
"His goal isn't to win that event, he wants to win bigger things. He is a very ambitious guy, he is aiming really high.
"Victor's determination is second to none. He's very dedicated to the game and he wants to become the best player in the world," said the 45-year-old Levet who is part of the same management stable as Dubuisson.
"He is giving it everything he has and it's nice to see. He wants to reach the top, he dreams big and he's not afraid to say it."
The bearded Dubuisson first made the golfing world sit up and take notice by winning the inaugural Turkish Airlines Open in November, eclipsing the likes of world number one Tiger Woods and U.S. Open champion Justin Rose to claim his maiden European Tour title.
He has performed consistently well since then and climbed from 30th to 23rd in the rankings after powering his way into last week's final at the first WGC (World Golf Championship) event of the season.
"The good thing about Victor for me is there's still a lot of room for improvement," said Levet, who holds the record for the most European Tour wins (six) by a Frenchman.
"Imagine what he will be like in a few years time? He will be France's best-ever player by far.
"He has all the weapons to achieve that. He can go a long way if he stays injury free.
"You always need a bit of luck to achieve in golf, to win majors for example, but with a bit of luck on his side he can do very big things."
The blond Dubuisson is something of a maverick. He does not practice as much as most of his colleagues and he often prefers his own company but Levet rejected the idea that he was a loner on the circuit.
"I've known him for maybe eight or 10 years now," said the 2004 Ryder Cup player. "We have the same manager and he's a good friend on the tour.
"He's a shy guy, he's not outspoken, but no, he's not a loner. It's just that he gives everything to his golf," Levet added.
"Victor likes to mix with the French guys, go out to dinner with us. But he does have a different diet to the rest of us, he doesn't eat a lot.
"He does his own stuff sometimes and just goes with the feeling he has at the time. Yes, he's a very different type of guy but, hey, maybe that's why he's so successful."
Levet, beaten by Ernie Els in a sudden-death playoff at the 2002 British Open, said there was a touch of the Tiger Woods about Dubuisson.
"Funnily enough Victor needs to improve his chipping and he could also hit the ball a lot higher," said the French veteran.
"His distance control and short irons aren't as good as some other players and his left to right fade is not his favorite shot but he reminds me a lot of Tiger.
"Tiger doesn't practice a lot on the range. When he gets to a tournament he is always ready and Victor is the same.
"Victor gave an incredible performance last week but the way he's been playing the last couple of years I always thought he could do very big things in 2014."
(Editing by Rex Gowar)